Once Upon a Tie

  • William Kissel

If a tie’s pattern does not readily identify it as one of Italo Ferretti’s designs, then its construction should. Ferretti, a 64-year-old tie maker from Silvi Marina, Italy, has been producing neckwear for Brioni since the 1970s (except for a recent, brief hiatus) and for his own, namesake label since 1967. His brand’s ties had been sold only in Europe, but this year he introduced his collection to the United States. Like his previous designs, all of the new Italo Ferretti ties depict a polka-dot pattern, either an obvious or a hidden one. While most Italian tie makers purchase finished fabrics from silk mills in northern Italy’s Como region, Ferretti designs his patterns and then commissions their printing. "Every design is an elaboration of a polka dot," explains Ferretti’s son Carlo, who, along with his father and his younger brothers, Giacomo and Federico, oversees the family business. "It isn’t necessarily a classic polka dot, but every design has a kind of polka-dot signature because my father has always been in love with polka dots."

As indicated by the patents he holds for three construction techniques, Ferretti also is enamored with ties that hang properly. Ferretti inserts a tiny weight, called a ballast, into the tip of the thin arm of the tie to make it hang straight; to the back of each tie, he adds a movable loop that can be affixed to a shirt button to hold the tie in place; and he double-stitches the collar band to prevent it from bunching under a shirt collar and to help preserve the tie’s shape after multiple knottings.

To mark the U.S. launch, Italo Ferretti introduced a made-to-order tie service at Moda Mario in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Battaglia in Beverly Hills, Calif., among other retailers. Cherry armoires in each store display sample ties that show the various neckwear shapes that Ferretti offers and hundreds of fabric swatches that represent all of the design options—from patchwork to Swarovski crystal accents. "We offer 20,000 combinations, including your choice of shape and pattern, as well as the ability to make your tie extra long or extra short," says Carlo Ferretti, who notes that you can have your name stitched onto the tie’s label or even printed on the material. You also can commission a wooden or silk-covered box to hold your neckwear. A custom tie costs from $200 to $2,500 and requires about three weeks for delivery.

After a two-year lapse related to management changes at Brioni, Italo Ferretti recently renewed his partnership with the brand. However, he will limit the custom service to his signature collection. "Before, we didn’t care so much about our own brand, so whatever innovations we created went into Brioni ties," says Carlo, adding that future innovations will be reserved for the Ferretti label.

Italo Ferretti, 201.945.2434, www.italoferretti.it

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